Myanmar says Aung San Suu Kyi accepted bribes, misused authority
The Anti-Corruption Commission in military-ruled Myanmar has found that ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi accepted bribes and misused her authority to gain advantageous terms in real estate deals, government-controlled media reported Thursday.
Suu Kyi’s lawyers had already denied the allegations when they were first raised three months ago by the military junta that toppled her elected government in a February coup. The commission’s findings come as prosecutors are set to present their case on separate charges against her in court Monday.
Supporters say all of the charges against Suu Kyi are politically motivated and an attempt to discredit her and legitimize the military’s seizure of power. The coup has been extremely unpopular among Myanmar’s people, who voted overwhelmingly for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy in last year’s general election after the party’s first five-year term in office.
If convicted of any of the offenses, Suu Kyi could be banned from running in the next election, should there be one. The junta has said it will hold new elections within the next year or two, but the country’s military has a long history of promising elections and not following through.
The military governed Myanmar for 50 years after a coup in 1962, and kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 years after a failed 1988 popular uprising against army rule.
Since February’s coup, Suu Kyi has already been charged with spreading information that could cause public alarm or unrest. She also faces two counts of violating the Natural Disaster Management Law for allegedly breaking COVID-19 pandemic restrictions during the 2020 election campaign; illegally importing walkie-talkies that were for her bodyguards’ use; and using the radios without license.
Myanmar state media say a well-known Buddhist monk was among at least 12 people who died when a military plane crashed in the central Mandalay region.
Another charge, breaching the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, is being handled separately.
Thursday’s report in the state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said the complaints based on the Anti-Corruption Commission’s findings were filed with police Wednesday. Other media, including state television MRTV, carried the same report.
The report said Suu Kyi has been charged under Section 55 of the Anti-Corruption Law, which states that holders of political office convicted of bribery face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine. It would be the most severe penalty she faces; the Officials Secrets Act has a maximum 14-year prison term.
Kyi Win, a lawyer for Suu Kyi and her party, said the legal team would discuss the development with her when they meet at their next court hearing on the other outstanding charges.
Burmese in the U.S. are protesting the brutal crackdown and urging global intervention. But it’s hard to overcome a lack of knowledge and interest.
Thursday’s report said the anti-corruption body had found that Suu Kyi illegally accepted $600,000 and seven gold bars from the former chief minister of Yangon Region, a political ally.
The report also said the commission had found that Suu Kyi misused her position to obtain rental properties at below-market prices for a charitable foundation named after her mother, which she chaired.
The story charged that the action deprived the state of revenue it would otherwise have earned.
“These moves were not carried out in line with the procedures but with her power and authority,” said the report. “She paid lower than the reasonable prices for land lease.”
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